Through the month of July, we are proud to feature several of the outstanding Culinary professionals that have found a place at Atria. Today we are proud to feature Andrea Paredes, Assistant Director of Culinary Service at Atria Cinco Ranch. Read on for her story.
Andrea Paredes’ love of food doesn’t end at the table. There are several reasons she puts the apron on. One reason is being able to provide service, like when she participates in the Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals, a non-profit local to her area. Another is the togetherness she fosters when creating elaborate meals, like those she hosts for her family gatherings. At her passion’s core, though, is her desire to learn.
Paving the Way
Ever since she was a child, Andrea has been a self-proclaimed picky eater. “Everything had to be perfect, even my eggs,” she reflected. Where other kids might have accepted a limited diet, she treated every bad-tasting meal as a challenge. She worked to build upon each dish and recreate it to match her refined tastes. Andrea kept cooking through her education. When she wasn’t working toward her business administration degree, she was in the kitchen. After graduating, she realized she wanted to pursue her talent in a more formal setting. However, she had a difficult time finding options for culinary school in El Salvador, where she grew up.
At 24 years old, Andrea moved to Houston, TX to attend culinary school. While in Houston, she entered a business administration role at a locally managed senior living company. She immediately began to enjoy the company of older adults. “They’re not afraid to tell you how they feel about a meal,” she said. “They love to eat!” Andrea found herself in a position where she could challenge herself, provide service, and do what she loved. There was just one missing piece.
Discovering a Support Structure
“I wanted to find somewhere with more opportunity, better benefits,” Andrea recalled. She knew what she wanted to do, but she needed to find a place where she could continue to grow. That’s when she saw a job opening at Atria Cinco Ranch. After beginning her career with Atria as a cook, Andrea was promoted to Assistant Director of Culinary Services in 2016. She credits part of her career trajectory to Senior Director of Culinary Services Franklin Ayala and the rest of the culinary staff. “I’m grateful to be working on this team,” she said, adding that the team’s eclectic talent has been a powerful motivator. “They’re all different kinds of cooks from different backgrounds.”
The culinary staff members at Atria Cinco Ranch continuously push each other to be the best versions of themselves. “Time in the kitchen is always fun,” Andrea said, citing small ways they empower each other, like timing each other’s knife skills for friendly competition. Her latest endeavors showcase even more support. Andrea recently earned the title of Certified Dietary Manager, as well as a Food Protection credential. She’s also currently pursuing her BA in nutrition using Atria’s tuition reimbursement program. “It’s always something I wanted to do… I’m very excited about that,” she shared.
As Andrea reflected on the beginning of her career and now works toward her next goal, she summed up her experience in one sentence: “Every day I learn.” Working at Atria means being encouraged to learn with those who share your passion. Find where you can grow today at atriacareers.com.